WELCOME to Cheap Buzz, where we eavesdrop as sommelier Marnie Old attempts to teach the joys of wine and fine spirits to Buzz, a guy with no sophistication and not much money. Here's their latest conversation:
BUZZ: Hey, Marnie, I have to stop drinking wine.
MARNIE: Why, Buzz?
BUZZ: Because my bookshelf is full. I put my empties up there with a candle in each one. It's very romantic.
MARNIE: I can imagine. Have you considered wine in a box?
BUZZ: Ha! You're funny. I buy crackers in a box. Wine comes in a bottle.
MARNIE: Most wines do, but times are changing. Until recently, the wines that came in boxes were cheap and cheerful, but of poor quality. But food-packaging technology has advanced so far that boxes and cartons are now the most efficient containers for wine.
BUZZ: But where's the romance? You can't open a wine box with a saber like you can champagne.
MARNIE: Wine bottles won't disappear - people like how they look and feel. Even if you call a bag-in-the-box a "cask" of wine, they just don't cut the mustard as gifts or for special occasions. But if we're talking about someone like you, who drinks modestly priced wine regularly, buying in bulk with cartons of wine could save you a bundle.
BUZZ: How much? Don't forget, I'm used to getting a free candleholder with each bottle.
MARNIE: The best boxed wines are in 3-liter cartons and sell for $15 to $30. Since traditional bottles hold only 750ml, that means you get four bottles' worth of liquid volume for the cost of two or three. Typically, the wine inside would sell for $8 to $15 in a bottle.
BUZZ: Geez, that's a lot of free wine. I could drink to that.
MARNIE: I bet you could, Buzz. Boxes are lighter to ship and produce less trash than bottles, too. But the best part by far is that box wine keeps longer. Since the shrinking bag inside doesn't expose the wine to air, the wine will taste fresh for up to 60 days.
BUZZ: I'm going to try some, even if it means I never get to 99 bottles of wine on the wall.